Why you'll love this recipe
- Each serving has 39 grams of protein!
- This taco mac and cheese is ready in under 30 minutes.
- Both kids and adults love this easy recipe.
- Easily customize your heat level with mild to hot salsa.
What is taco mac and cheese?
Think taco meat plus macaroni and cheese and you’ve got taco mac and cheese. However, the goal of this recipe was to make each serving as high protein as possible. In order to do this I used Banza Elbow pasta and added cottage cheese to the sauce. Before you get the heebie jeebies now that you’ve heard cottage cheese .. this recipe has been tasted by my entire family and no one has any idea is uses cottage cheese. Zero. Nada.
Can you use other meats beside beef?
Definitely! I would suggest using ground meats though like ground turkey or chicken. Follow the instructions the same for any raw meat you use for this taco mac and cheese.
What is in the sauce?
To make this sauce high protein and creamy we are using 8 oz. of low fat cottage cheese combined with salsa. Trust me, no one will even notice. As long as you blend the cottage cheese first (prior to adding the salsa) and get it as smooth as possible the cottage cheese is undetectable in this taco mac and cheese.
How to make this gluten and dairy free
This taco mac and cheese is full of dairy so making it dairy free may be a bit tricky. This recipe uses cottage cheese, milk and two different types of cheese. You can try with dairy free alternatives. I am using Banza Chickpea Pasta Elbows to add protein to this dish which are also gluten free.
Ingredients and Substitutes:
These are the main ingredients and substitutions. See recipe card below for full ingredients list and instructions for this Taco Mac and Cheese.
Ground Beef: this recipe uses lean 96/4 ground beef. You can use any percent beef or substitute with ground chicken or turkey. I do suggest sticking with ground meats for this recipe.
Bell Pepper: this recipe uses one red bell pepper chopped into small chunks. You can use red, green, orange or yellow.
Homemade Taco Seasoning: I use the same homemade taco seasoning in any and all of my taco flavored recipes. It has been tested and loved time and time again. With a combination of cumin, paprika and chili powder you will love the flavors of this seasoning. Use it on anything!
Salsa: I definitely suggest using the fresh salsa found in the refrigerated sections. They’re low calorie, fresh, flavorful and much better than jarred salsa. I like used the Signature Select (this is a Safeway brand) Roasted Taqueria Style in Medium. This is where you adjust your heat level. Use mild to hot salsa!
Elbow Noodles: you can use any elbow noodles. This recipe sues 8 oz. Banza Chickpea Pasta Elbow which has added protein and is gluten free. Swap with your favorite just note the nutrition facts will change.
Milk: the sauce has 1/4 cup of whole milk. You can use nonfat, 2% coconut or almond. The nutrition facts will change but not by a huge amount as it is such a small amount used.
Cheddar Cheese: you will need 1/2 cup of mild cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup reduced fat sharp cheddar for the cheese sauce. You can use all mild or a combination of others.
How to make this Taco Mac and Cheese:
What to serve with this recipe?
This taco mac and cheese is great as a standalone meal but you could also serve with a side salad or roasted vegetables. To beef it up you could even serve it over cauliflower rice to add volume.
What is a serving size for this macaroni?
Serving size is approximately 240 grams or 1 heaping cup per serving. The recipe makes 6 servings.
Nutrition facts are an estimate. As always, for the most accurate measurement per serving weigh your final dish (minus the pan!) and divide by the serving amount.
If you like this recipe be sure to check out some of our other easy recipes!
“ohsnapmacros Taco Mac and Cheese”
Taco Mac and Cheese
- 1 lbs. lean ground beef 96/4
- Taco Seasoning
- 8 oz. Banza Chickpea Pasta Elbows weighed uncooked
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped 113g
- 8 oz. low fat cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup medium spice salsa
- 1/4 cup whole milk sub 2%
- 1/2 cup mild cheddar cheese 56g
- 1/2 cup reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese 56g
- 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 tsp. paprika
- 1 tbsp. chili powder
- 1.5 tbsp. ground cumin
- 1/4 cup water
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles according to the package instructions.
- While the noodles cook start browning your meat in a pan over medium breaking down into bite size pieces as you cook it.
- While the meat browns combine all taco seasonings in a small bowl with water. Once browned add the taco seasoning to the meat and reduce to a simmer. Add the chopped bell peppers and let simmer for 5 minutes stirring often.
- Using a immersion blender, food processor or small blender, blend the cottage cheese so that it is completely smooth. Once smooth add the salsa, milk and flour and mix together well to combine.
- Add the cottage cheese sauce, mild cheddar and sharp cheddar cheese to the pan with the meat mixture. Mix together to completely melt the cheese and evenly combine.
- Drain the noodles from the water and add to the pot with the meat and cheese mixture. Mix together well. Top with chopped cilantro and enjoy!